WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 07, 2011, 10:16 AM

Small town fights to keep local grocery store

Buffalo, ND (WDAY TV) - Like many small towns, Buffalo, North Dakota sits between bigger cities that often scare away some, if not all of their businesses. Buffalo isn't giving up one of their most vital stores without a fight.

Just a short drive from Valley City and Fargo, Buffalo, North Dakota has had to work to keep its Main Street thriving and with their only grocery store threatening to close shop, they know a chain reaction could follow.

JERRY MELVIN - Buffalo Grocery Committee: "Buffalo was founded in 1880 and we've had a store all of that time except for probably 2 years."

Grocer Fred Wangler came to town in 2006, owning a few small town stores in the region, but with flat sales the past three years, and competing with the nearby cities, ownership has become a hardship.

FRED WANGLER - Owner, Wangler Foods: "They sell more in two to three months than I do in a whole year in all my locations."

Wangler announced his plans to close a couple weeks ago, but Buffalo leaders wouldn't fathom the idea of having this storefront sit empty. They sent out surveys to locals, trying to get them to commit to shopping local.

Whether it be convincing the current owner to stay, finding a new owner, or getting private investors, folks in Buffalo agree, they need a grocery store.

JERRY MELVIN - Buffalo Grocery Committee: "We've got a bank, we've got many good businesses in Buffalo, so we want to hold it all together, so that the community doesn't die."

Customers know the store offers more than just the convenience of driving down the road for a gallon of milk.

ROD STOA - Works in Buffalo: "With increasing fuel prices I think it's going to be significant. People will think twice about going anywhere. I know I do everyday when I drive out here everyday from Fargo to work."

AMANDA STECKLER - Lives in Buffalo: "With the community and the elderly and everything that lives here, it would just be really sad to lose it because so many people do depend on it.”

Buffalo will be holding a public meeting tomorrow night to talk about the future of the grocery store. It starts at 7 at the Buffalo Community Center.